Kris Maria Wanders
Best Things To Do in West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy Mountains- “Where History Meets Adventure”
If unparalleled outdoor adventures and rich cultural experiences feel like “home” to you, you’ll want those country roads to take you right to the Hatfield-McCoy Region of West Virginia!
This post is sponsored by West Virginia Department of Tourism, Hatfield McCoy CVB and Hatfield McCoy Trails.
Tucked away in Southern West Virginia near the border of Kentucky, this beautiful region of Appalachia was named for the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Now, it is home to the Hatfield-McCoy Trails- an expansive off-road system that draws thousands of visitors every year. There's so much more to this area beyond the trails though. The rugged landscapes of the Appalachian mountains, rich history and culture, charming mountain towns, and hospitable people make Southern West Virginia one of the most underrated travel destinations in the United States.
The more I visit the Mountain State, the more it feels like home! If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience packed with outdoor adventures, the Hatfield-McCoy Region of West Virginia needs to be on your travel bucket list! There's plenty to enjoy in every season, but I especially recommend a spring, summer or fall getaway.
What To Expect in This Travel Guide
This post will cover the best outdoor activities, historical sites, charming mountain towns, where to stay, where to eat and drink, and so much more to help you plan the perfect trip to the Hatfield-McCoy Region. I'll give you all my best tips and honest thoughts about our experiences along the way.
Let’s get to it!
BEST Things To Do on Your Trip to West Virginia's Hatfield McCoy Mountains-For All Types of Outdoor Adventurers
Scratch Your Outdoor Adventure Itch on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails
No visit to Southern West Virginia is complete without riding the Hatfield-McCoy Trails! They’re truly the crown jewel of the area for riders of ATV/UTVs, dirt bikes, and side by sides.
This off-road trail system stretches over 1,000 miles across several counties of Southern WV. Made up of 10 different trail systems, there’s something for riders of all skill and experience levels to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking tight twisting turns, or wide easy paths, every trail system has its own personality (and beautiful scenic views)! The surrounding towns around the trails are "ATV-friendly," so it's easy for visitors to get to and from their lodging, as well as find food, gas, and supplies.
We rode the Rockhouse Trails, the largest of the ten trail systems, and loved it! This trail system is over 100 miles with direct access to the towns of Gilbert & Man. It has several different trails with a variety of difficulty levels. With the lush green scenery, scenic overlooks, and hidden waterfalls, we didn't want to stop! Visit the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority website for full descriptions and difficulty levels for each trail system to help plan your visit.
Quick Tips: Riders must purchase a permit to access the trails. You can do this at one of several locations, and it is valid for the entire calendar year, so you can visit more than once! The trails are open to riders from just before sunrise to just after sunset. Be sure to read the full list of rules and regulations before you go! Don't have your own machine? No problem! There are several places you can rent from.
Step Back in Time as You Explore Historical Sites from the Mine Wars and Hatfield-McCoy Feud
Even if you aren’t a history buff, you can’t help but be enthralled by the history of the Hatfield-McCoy Region! I'll venture to guess you're aware of the 135-year old feud between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky. My own knowledge ended there, as anything I learned in school had long since faded away. What I was able to experience in just a few days visiting the area taught me more than a textbook ever could!
Learn a Little Bit of West Virginia History
Separated by the Tug Fork River, the lead figures in the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud were Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy. While legend has it the feud was started over a hog, the locals will tell you this is a common misconception. It actually goes back to the Civil War when Asa McCoy (one of the only members from either family to fight for the Union Army) was murdered at the hands of Confederate soldiers from a WV group called the Logan Wildcats. While Devil Anse Hatfield was a suspect, it was determined that his uncle Jim Vance most likely did the killing. The dispute over ownership of a hog wouldn’t occur until 13 years later in 1878.
Another well-known event that only escalated the feud was the forbidden relationship between Roseanna McCoy and Devil Anse's son Johnson, or "Johnse" Hatfield. This love story ended tragically with Roseanna passing away from a broken heart at just 28 years old.
Visitors to the Hatfield-McCoy Region can almost step back in time with how well these historical events have been preserved and retold. I don’t want to give away too much, just enough to pique your interest and impress the locals with your knowledge!
Visit the Historic Town of Matewan, WV
Home to several key events in the Hatfield-McCoy feud, the town of Matewan, WV is also steeped in the history of coal miners as they fought for unionization. Every building and street corner has a story to tell, but there are a few key activities I recommend for an incredible experience.
Explore the Mine Wars Museum
Located at the site of the largest armed uprising in the U.S. (besides the Civil War), this independent people’s museum walks visitors through the events of the Mine Wars Era. It’s a powerful display of what coal camps were like in Central Appalachia and the struggles of mine workers and their families as they fought for better wages and living conditions. Many of the key events were startling and critical to achieving the freedoms we have today. The museum’s Executive Director, Mackenzie New-Walker, really enhanced our experience by walking us through and immersing us in the displays. She brought history to life through her passion for keeping these stories alive! I have to admit, I’m not always the biggest fan of museums, but I really enjoyed this one.
Visit the Site of the Matewan Massacre
Across the street from the Mine Wars museum lies the site of the 1920 Matewan Massacre- the deadliest shootout in American History. The shootout occurred between local coal miners fighting to unionize and members of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency (basically the goon squad hired by the wealthy coal companies). Ten people were killed in total, including the mayor. Today, you can still see bullets lodged in the wall of the old post office. I’m more of a “hands-on”learner myself, and being able to physically stand where something so terrible took place and physically touch what remains was a next level experience! If that wasn't enough, a living descendant of the Baldwin family just so happened to be sitting on a bench outside and personally recounted the story for us.
Take an Airboat Tour Down the Scenic Tug River
It’s a big jump from a museum, I know, but this historical outdoor adventure via Hatfield McCoy Airboat Tours is the best way to experience both the beauty AND the history of Matewan. In addition to beautiful landscapes, you’ll ride by several key locations from the Hatfield-McCoy feud, including Roseanna McCoy’s last homestead and the pawpaw tree incident where three McCoy boys were murdered by Devil Anse Hatfield. They were hung from trees in Kentucky and shot at from across the river in West Virginia.
Tours are run by Keith Gibson- a local resident with deep knowledge of the area. His story-telling is sure to captivate you! Even if you aren't about the history, surely you can appreciate the natural landscapes and wildlife!
Visit the New Hatfield Homestead Museum and the Hatfield Cemetery
Yet another place where the Hatfield & McCoy family history comes alive, the Hatfield Homestead Museum is located at Devil Anse’s last known homestead and operated by Jack Hatfield- Devil Anse Hatfield’s great grandson! The museum showcases several amazing artifacts from the 1800’s and beyond. You can see where the Hatfields made their moonshine in secret and where Devil Anse kept not only his favorite horse, but his three pet black bears! Many family heirlooms are on display and artifacts continue to be dug up on the property to this day.
Just down the street from Devil Anse’s last homestead (now the Hatfield Homestead Museum), lies the Hatfield Cemetery. This is Devil Anse’s final resting place, along with other members of the Hatfield family. Walking amongst the headstones is eerie, but makes you feel even more connected to this family and their iconic history.
Marvel at the Coalfield Jamboree Theatre in Historic Downtown Logan, WV
Originally opened in 1938 as the New Logan Theatre, this cinema remains a town treasure. It was the finest theatre and the first to be built in West Virginia with air conditioning! Now, it offers visitors a unique experience to take in the cultural heritage of the area and celebrate local talent. We had the pleasure of attending a special event put on by the Logan County Chamber of Commerce called "Rolling Through the Decades." The event was Gatsby-themed and offered a chance to sample local food, meet amazing people, dance and laugh the night away. We watched talented local re-enactors play famous figures from Logan like Devil Anse Hatfield, professional boxer Jack Dempsey, and jazz singer Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (winner of America's Got Talent in 2011). We witnessed local legends of the community receive honors for their incredible impacts, and we heard about the amazing things people are doing to better the county while also preserving its rich history and culture. The theatre is beautiful and a must-do activity while in Logan!
Hike Amongst the Rugged Natural Landscapes of the Appalachians on a Variety of Hiking Trails
Chief Logan State Park
As an avid hiker, no trip is complete without exploring the local hiking trails. My husband and I really enjoyed the hiking in Chief Logan State Park. Covering 4,000 acres with 18 miles of trails, a fishing pond, and a museum, Chief Logan has something for everyone. All of the trails are scenic and range in length and difficulty. We enjoyed the Guyandotte Beauty Trail, as it was incredibly green and full of wildflowers, but it definitely lived up to its difficulty level of "hard" due to the steepness. There are other gentler trails that are mostly flat, and a fitness trail for those really looking for a workout. The Coal Mine trail offers the chance to see old mines, and the Lakeside Trail circles around the fishing pond. While most of the trails are short, you can combine many of them together for a longer day hike. I'd recommend getting a park map with each of the trails listed on it. You can read the descriptions and determine which trails are the best fit for you!
Not that into hiking? No worries! You can also bike, fish, horseback ride, swim, and visit the museum. There's also an old pioneer house along the fitness trail that I highly recommend seeing. There is a small pull-off along the road there. Just beyond the house is a beautiful bridge over the creek.
Twin Falls State Park
About an hour from Logan in Wyoming County, WV is Twin Falls Resort State Park. If you have the time and enjoy chasing waterfalls, I'd highly recommend visiting. It was directly on our route home to DC, so it was a no-brainer for us. Twin Falls features beautiful mountain views and 25 miles of hiking and biking trails. Two magical waterfalls can be accessed via a quick 2 mile (out and back) hike on the Falls Trail. This first is Marsh Fork Falls, and shortly beyond that is Black Fork Falls. There's a bit of a steep scramble down to Black Fork Falls, but you can walk behind this waterfall, so it is well worth it. The Falls Trails is Easy to Moderate with roughly 200 ft elevation gain.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in the Hatfield-McCoy Region
I did mention this entire area was historical, didn't I? Yes, even the restaurants! Not only that, the Hatfield-McCoy Region is secretly a foodie town. There are some insanely good cooks around, many of them still using treasured recipes from the early 1900's brought over from Europe. Here are a few establishments I particularly enjoyed and highly recommend visiting on your trip!
Nu Era Bakery (Logan, WV)
Established officially in 1940, Nu Era Bakery dates back to the 1920s and still uses the original recipes brought over from Italy! The original owner (xxxx) was well-known in town for her sweet treats and often shipped baked goods to the war camps for soldiers during WWII. I have to recommend the blueberry doughnut because it was amazing, but you really can’t go wrong with anything!
Hatfield McCoy Moonshine Distillery (Gilbert, WV)
After a day of riding, visit the Hatfield McCoy Moonshine Distillery to sample some moonshine, whiskey, or bourbon. Run by a descendant of the family, the distillery is located on Hatfield land and still uses the recipe of the famous Devil Anse Hatfield.
While everything here is good, the award-winning bourbon ranked at the top of my list! I'm a big bourbon fan, and this one lives up to the hype! The Distillery is also featured in the brand new Fox Nation reality show The Real Hatfields and McCoys: Forever Feuding.
Red Bird Cafe (Man, WV)
Red Bird Cafe is a new addition to the Appalachian Outpost in Lyburn, WV. The cafe serves up delicious coffee beverages to meet your caffeine needs, and also doubles as an ice cream shop. I enjoyed a brown sugar cinnamon latte and sampled a few flavors of ice cream so I can attest that both are delicious! This is a great place to visit both before and after riding the Hatfield-McCoy Trails!
Trailhead Bar and Grill (Matewan, WV)
Rumor has it that when the trail riders would come off the trails, they always wanted to know where they could get a burger and a cold beer. Enter Trailhead Bar and Grill. It is indeed located right at the Matewan trailhead of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails and serves up cold beer in addition to a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and pretty much anything you can think of. If you’re into fries, I highly recommend the sweet potato fries with homemade caramel dipping sauce. Just be warned- it’s addicting!
Hillbilly Fire Pit (Man, WV)
If you love comfort food, Hillbilly Fire Pit is definitely the place for you. Located in a beautiful setting along Buffalo Creek, it’s a tranquil spot for trail riders to grab a bite. The outdoor seating was designed specifically for people covered in mud! While you can pretty much order anything you can think of, people rave about the pizza, ribs, egg rolls, and more! I personally loved the Hamwhich (a play on an Italian sub, but in pizza form) and the Hillbilly Philly (a Philly cheese steak in the form of a pizza)! Isn't everything better when it's a pizza?
Four Seasons Country Store
This deli-style country store is a great to-go option featuring fresh, local items as well as made to order food. The BBQ is especially yummy, and you can’t go wrong with any of the baked goods! If you're in town for a while, consider stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies!
Parkway Restaurant & Drive In (Logan, WV)
Who doesn’t love a good drive in? They’re rare these days, so Parkway Restaurant and Drive In is a must when in Logan County. We really enjoyed dining in for breakfast. We had fresh, hot coffee, homemade sausage, biscuits, a pancake bigger than my face, and of course the most exception service! They’re also a popular lunch and dinner option.
Chirico’s Italian Restaurant in Logan
I didn’t realize the Italian presence in Southern WV until I arrived and personally experienced places like Chirico’s Italian Restaurant! After hearing about the handmade dough, I was really tempted to try the calzone or the pepperoni rolls, but I was too drawn to the pizza-baked spaghetti. Let me tell you, the pasta here is out of this world. I also have to recommend you save room for dessert.
Where to Stay on Your Trip to the Hatfield-McCoy Mountains
Depending which trail systems you plan to ride/where you want to focus your trip, there are several places to post up- from hotels to cabins to lodges.
The newly built Appalachian Outpost has 25 cabins and is convenient for trail riders. You can ride your machine right up to the front door and enjoy easy access to the Hatfield McCoy trails.
My husband and I stayed in the Chief Logan State Park Lodge in Logan County and really enjoyed our time there! It's an ideal location near the Hatfield McCoy trails and not far from downtown Logan. The Lodge is surrounded by mountains and has 75 rooms with great amenities for guests like outdoor fire pits, a gazebo, and a restaurant. All of the staff were incredibly helpful and helped us navigate our way around the state park. It's no wonder this is one of the most visited facilities in the WV State Park System! You can also camp here or rent a newly built cabin.
If you've made it this far, I hope you enjoyed this post and that you are now ready to plan the most epic trip to the Hatfield McCoy Mountains of West Virginia! I can't reiterate enough how amazing and underrated this destination is for history buffs and outdoor adventurers alike. As always, please do your best to respect the area and the local people in the places you visit. I'm certain you will receive a very warm welcome Southern West Virginia!
Thank you for reading, and Happy Travels!